(11:00 am EST) – Margaritaville at Sea’s fleet is set to double in size with the arrival of the cruise line’s second vessel, Margaritaville at Sea Islander.
The ship is set to join the fleet in June 2024 and in a first for Margaritaville at Sea, will be homeported year-round in Tampa. The cruise line’s current ship, Margaritaville at Sea Paradise, sails from the Port of Palm Beach, from where it offers two- and three-night itineraries to Freeport, Grand Bahama.
Originally built in 1999 as Costa Cruises’ Costa Atlantica, the ship is currently being refurbished and will sport Margaritaville at Sea’s tropical livery, parrots and all.
Sailing from the Gulf Coast of Florida allows Margaritaville at Sea Islander to expand the cruise line’s portfolio of destinations. The new ship’s itineraries include calls in Key West, Cozumel and Progreso.
“Tampa is a port that is very convenient for both drive and fly passengers,” Chris Ivy, CEO of Margaritaville at Sea, said to Cruise Critic. “It gives us the access to some great itineraries in the Gulf and we get to visit Key West, where the Margaritaville brand started."
The new itineraries are also longer, as the ship will embark on four- and five-night roundtrip journeys from Tampa. Margaritaville at Sea Islander’s five-night itineraries will feature two ports of call (Key West-Progreso, Key West-Cozumel or Progreso-Cozumel), plus two days at sea. The shorter 4-night itineraries will feature one port of a call and two days at sea.
The cruise line confirmed that the inaugural sailing on June 14th will be the four-night trip with a stop in Cozumel.
Ivy mentioned that the ability to do longer itineraries has been a longtime goal for the cruise line, spurred also by passenger feedback. While the executive said that Margaritaville at Sea Paradise’s two- and three-night itineraries are a very accessible option for many cruisers, introducing longer options made sense. “There are a lot of Margaritaville fans of out there, and if you’re a cruiser who happens to live in say Texas, a flight from Florida for a 2-night cruise is sometimes a little bit of an ask,” Ivy said to Cruise Critic.
The executive also revealed that, unlike Margaritaville at Sea Paradise, the new ship will not feature a cruise and stay program that allows passengers to book a cruise and a resort stay. “That being said, we’ll have some unique tie-ins with day excursion opportunities and partnerships with other properties that are under the Margaritaville brand,” Ivy said, adding that “the first thing you immediately see in Cozumel is the large Margaritaville destination restaurant in the cruise port.”
While Margaritaville at Sea Islander’s arrival will double the cruise line’s fleet size, in terms of passenger capacity the new ship also happens be twice as large as Margaritaville at Sea Paradise.
The 85,619-GT vessel can accommodate up to 2,650 passengers in 1,100 staterooms instead of Margaritaville at Sea Paradise’s 1,308-passenger capacity.
By virtue of being a larger ship, Margaritaville at Sea Islander is also set to introduce more accommodation options. The ship will offer 1,100 cabins in 11 categories ranging from inside cabins to Islander suites.
Similarly, new venues will be available onboard Margaritaville at Sea Islander. Standouts include the three-story poolside Landshark Bar at Sea, a new casino, the 14-story Flip Flop Atrium and a poolside stage.
The ship also expands on family-friendly venues and activities, with more pools and new venues like the Caribbean Amphibian Splash and Slide play area, a mini-golf course and four kids’ clubs. “We’ve been pleasantly surprised at the number of families that we see on Margaritaville at Sea Paradise,” Ivy told Cruise Critic. “The Margaritaville hotels and resorts definitely skew family, particularly some of the larger resorts, so that’s something we really wanted to be thoughtful about on the new ship and I think we hit a really nice balance.”
Mainstays introduced in Margaritaville at Sea Paradise are set to return on the new ship, including Paradise Pickleball at Sea, Frank and Lola’s Pizzeria, Margaritaville Coffee Shop, JWB Prime Steakhouse and Cheeseburger in Paradise.